Van Vogt: The Silkie

Last year I picked up a whole stack of books from a library book sale in a tiny lake town in Minnesota, and quite a few of them were Van Vogt paperbacks. The Silkie was rather odd; rather than a single narrative, there were three stories about the fantastic things that happened to good ole space-neighborhood police officer Nat Cemp, who is a super-powerful telepathic space creature of a race that can change shape and breed with humans. Warning: spoilers abound!

He saves the Earth three times: first by defeating an alien that was going to have sex with and then eat everyone on the planet, human and silkie alike (whut?); second by rescuing the Earth from a superpowerful being who had enslaved the silkies and sent them out as unwitting scouts; and third, by destroying the silkies’ ancient enemies with cognitive dissonance. Unfortunately, these final antagonists are symbiotically bound to reality, and when they’re destroyed, the universe stops existing. Ooops.

Then, after remaking the universe to his specifications, he goes home to his wife to tell her all about his adventures. Presumably they aren’t classified anymore after he rewrote the universe. I guess.

I’m so totally not even kidding. That’s not even the entire list of every wacky and outrageous thing that happens. There’s more. It’s worth a read just for that! But don’t expect a fully-fleshed out novel; the style is quite different from any modern works I’ve read. Much sparser, though littered with fascinating and memorable passages.

I kind of want a fan-sequel written from the perspective of the police computer and Nat’s friend the director… and his wife. She doesn’t have many lines, but she’s such a character in those that I want to read more! Maybe after Nat “destroys” the human race by turning them all into silkies who are conditioned to be the perfect police force, breeding and giving up their children to the benevolent state (fridge horror), they all go out to the abandoned habitable planets left over from story #2 and have wacky family bonding adventures?


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